Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

No cure for this hangover

Until next year that is, Jets fans

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If you find yourself a little listless, grumpy and unsure what to do with your time now that the Jets are done until the fall, you're not alone.

Psychology experts agree it's perfectly normal for fans to suffer an emotional letdown after such an intense experience with a favourite sports team.

"I think there's going to be a bit of a hangover," said Cal Botterill, a retired sports psychology professor at the University of Winnipeg. "It's been such a high (for Jets fans) and I think any human being who has been high that much and long will experience a bit of a trough. They're going to miss it.

"It's a human tendency to go through a bit of a mood swing when you experience something so stimulating."

Leisha Strachan, assistant professor in the faculty of kinesiology and recreation management at the University of Manitoba, agreed. She said there is a "definite correlation" between the moods of fans and the fortunes of their favourite team.

She said it's similar, in an opposite kind of way, to the elation felt by millions of Canadians after the men's hockey team won gold at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

"There was a feeling of rallying around the team. You felt that sense of community," she said.

"It's an intense experience with all the emotions around the Jets coming back to Winnipeg. When they're done, there's a void (in our lives). We haven't felt that for a long time."

The good news this time around is this hangover isn't going to last 15 years. But the cure isn't as simple as taking a couple of Aspirin and calling the Jets one fall morning. Fans need to reclaim "their old lives" and find other things to do, such as visiting The Forks, going to the lake or playing Frisbee at Assiniboine Park. The only problem might be it's impossible to escape visual reminders of the Jets.

"It won't recede," Botterill said. "There will be somebody playing Frisbee in a Jets jersey or T-shirt. It's going to stay alive in the summer," he said.

Countless Jets fans have no doubt empathized with the main character in Visa Canada's latest commercial. In the 30-second spot, a Jets fan, sporting face paint and a blue foam No. 1 finger, is shown breaking down as the team is eliminated from the playoff race. With Love Hurts by Nazareth as the soundtrack, the fan washes off his face paint and shaves off his playoff beard in the shower -- all while still wearing his jersey.

The commercial was produced by Visa Canada in conjunction with the NHL but without the involvement of any of the teams featured.

Gallant Law, head of sponsorship marketing at Visa Canada, said the Jets fan was intended to represent all hockey fans who feel as if their hearts have been ripped out at this time of year but he said it was also a tribute to the passion demonstrated by Winnipeggers this hockey season.

"We picked Winnipeg because it's a homecoming for the city back into the NHL. We know everybody was really excited about the Jets coming back to Winnipeg. We wanted to give (the Jets) a bit more of a spotlight," he said.

Scott Brown, spokesman for the Jets, said True North Sports & Entertainment was made aware the team would be the ad's focus because of its popularity.

"We were one of the stronger brands in the NHL this year. Anybody who saw what was going on in the rink this year would understand that," he said.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 13, 2012 A9

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Updated on Friday, April 13, 2012 at 10:17 AM CDT: Adds video

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